We recently caught up with Tom from Chronographs for a chat. See what happened below!
Thanks for the interview – could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about the band?
Hello, my name’s Tom Ridley. I’m Chronographs’ guitarist, co-songwriter, co-producer, manager, graphic designer, marketeer, secretary, accountant, merch packer and interview answer-er.
You’re currently in the process of releasing monthly singles – where did the idea for that come from?
A mixture of things, I suppose. By the time we released Nausea in 2013, the music had already been recorded for 18 months, and was written probably a year before that. It was out of date, and not really representative of the five of us at that moment. Although two & a half years is probably a longer lead time than usual for an EP, that sort of cycle is pretty typical. We like the idea of releasing music as and when it’s ready, and as far as I know it’s not something that’s been done very much before.
Do you record on a monthly basis or did you record all of them in one go?
Everything is done as we go. We have songs started that will probably make an appearance in a couple of month’s time, but all of the lyrics, most of the composition, and all of the recording, mixing, mastering, etc is done within the month we release the song.
Which one are you most proud of?
Personally, Porcelain because musically it’s almost all my own work. That doesn’t make it better than the others – some songs are very collaborative, and some are largely written by another member of the band. I just favour Porcelain because it’s all mine. Plus that guitar riff in the first verse is fun to play.
What can you say about the upcoming singles?
It’s actually hard to say because they’re all still being written. But there’s a mixed bag in our pool of ideas. There’s a fairly heavy song I’m working on now which has a big punk-rock vibe, and there’s another with a huge dance-rock bit which is helplessly catchy. I’m really excited – the best is yet to come.
Can you describe your writing and recording process?
It’s very spread out. Most songs are fundamentally composed by myself, Jack (Pope, Guitars) and Finn (Mclean, Drums). We all live in different cities so we have to collaborate a lot online, and we meet when we can to write together. We then pass the music onto Jon (Sinfield, Vocals) and Tom (Benson, Bass) to add their two pennies.
We use a studio called The Ladder factory near Swindon for tracking drum, engineered by George Lever from G1 Productions. He also mixes and masters everything – we have a great relationship with George. We’ve been working together since Nausea.
Guitars and bass are recorded at my little studio in the centre of Bristol. Vocals are either done at Jon’s place, or with George. Whereas the actual process of recording guitars is pretty much just getting good sounds, and good takes of the material we’ve already written, the vocal sessions are very fluid and creative. The songs can change a lot as we record the vocals.
And have there been any interesting stories from the studio?
Honestly the time we spend together is usually pretty focused, because of how infrequently we’re all in the same room. Although a while back I bought a Korg Monotribe synth/drum machine. That thing’s amazing. Jack, Finn and I spent an evening making hilarious electro. Jack was pretty good at it.
Moving onto gigs, how would you describe your live shows?
The live show has always been very energetic, and actually pretty slick. I don’t like silence. We always have some sound for the whole set, and when possible, that’s live sound being created by us. Occasionally we all have to retune and stuff so a backing track kicks in, but it’s still cool to deliver a full 40 minute experience to the audience.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with triggering lights from our laptop – It’s all about bringing a bigger experience. Expect that on our next tour.
What would you say has been your best show?
Ghostfest 2013 was pretty great. A packed room, and a lot of loud voices.
And perhaps the strangest or weirdest?
There’s been plenty. We played in Kassel in Germany, in this run-down rehearsal space down a forest track. And we’ve played at a pub in Rhyl called the North Wales Inn twice now. Very much a local old boys’ watering hole, but it’s been packed both times we’ve played. It’s always the small, strange places that surprise you.
If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be?
It would be great to play somewhere completely remote, where our music has reached, and a good crowd comes out to see us. Tasmania, or Iceland? Somewhere like that would be cool.
And finally if Chronographs could put their name to a product, what would it be?
Good question. I actually have a degree in Product Design Engineering so this is my territory. It would need to be innovative. True innovation is actually fairly hard to come by in the musical instruments market. The design of the electric guitar (at least most guitars that sell well) has barely changed since the 1950s. Guitarists are purists. There’s a cool new gadget called the Evertune which as far as I understand it, completely prevents your guitar from going out of tune, which is pretty amazing. I haven’t tried one yet. If it kicks arse I’d happily put our name to that. There’s also a cool new instrument called the Seaboard which looks like fun. I’d like to try one of those.